FORT WORTH, Texas -- A 911 operator is coming under fire for how she handled an emergency call from an elderly woman in Forest Hill.
Bette Ammann called operators last week alerting them her house was on fire.
The dispatcher in training did not immediately tell Ammann to get out of the house.
They spoke for approximately one minute before the dispatcher told Ammann to get out.
She died early Friday morning from smoke inhalation with thermal burns.
Firefighters say although the dispatcher made a mistake, they believe the burglar bars on Ammann's house prevented her from getting out.
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11-17-2003, 05:53 PM #1
911 Operator Under Fire Over Call From Woman Who Died
12-03-2003, 02:31 PM #2
Gotta love the monday morning quarterbacks.
Who's to say even if she had told the woman to get out within 5 seconds of answering the call, that the woman would have survived? A minute does border on "long time" to me but I wasn't the one taking the call and working in that center at the time.
To me, these types of cases are like saying if the fire department had driven faster and had shaved 30 or 40 seconds off the response time, maybe the woman would've survived. 40ish seconds... not a long time, and to make the dispatcher shoulder that burden publicly is a little irresposible I think.
Another thing... what if she would have been better off to shelter in place rather than try to escape? An important thing to tell people is "if it is safe to do so..." When you give callers instructions like "get out," "stay on the phone with me," "don't hang up," etc. the calltaker might be endangering the caller. Those types of instructions should always include the "if you feel it is safe to do so." If the woman encountered smoke and high heat conditions, maybe she would've returned to an area of refuge to await the fire department.
It doesn't make sense to give instructions that might place the caller in greater danger if followed blindly.
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